Summer Starts Here
Fill your calendar with fun in Regina, Saskatoon and the Hinterland
by Gregory Beatty
Recently, our political leaders spent a good month roaming around Saskatchewan collecting votes (or not) in our 28th general election. Like campaign managers with their official itineraries, we’ve got you covered pretty much anywhere you might venture in the province for your holidays and weekend getaways this summer.
You can find more information on all the events here, plus many more, by visiting the Tourism Regina, Tourism Saskatoon and Tourism Saskatchewan websites, along with the website of the host organization which we’ve helpfully included in the listing — or a contact number if no URL was available, because we’re thoughtful that way.
Heritage Regina Walking Tours
July 3–Aug. 28
These happen Sundays at 6 p.m. throughout the summer. Featured are walking tours of Regina neighbourhoods presented by Regina Public Library’s Prairie History Room and led by Heritage Regina. Sometimes, it’s the neighbourhood that’s the focus — its architecture, general history and whatnot. Other times, it’s a specific event — such as the Regina Riot in 1935, or Regina Tornado in 1912. All in all, sounds like a great Sunday evening activity.
Regina International Fringe Festival
RIFF celebrates its 12th anniversary in 2016. As usual, there’s a mix of provincial, national and international acts. One highlight promises to be Diamond Girls about Saskatchewan women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Another highlight will be the kids’ fringe at the MacKenzie Gallery on July 9.
SaskTel Summer Invasion
After being held for a few years in late August, this festival switches back to July. Daytime continues to feature free Xtreme sports competitions and demos (skateboarding, wakeboarding, motocross, etc), while at night Wascana Centre will host ticketed concerts. Outside of Vancouver rockers Falling For Scarlet, the line-up is heavy on Saskatchewan talent with Rah Rah, Close Talker, Library Voices, The Pistolwhips, Surf Dads, The Steadies and more.
Like Australia, Africa is a continent. Unlike Australia, though, Africa is not a single country. Instead, it’s composed of many different nations and ethno-cultural groups that inhabit diverse eco-systems from deserts and coastal areas to jungles and savannah. You can learn more about the Queen City’s African diaspora at this festival, which goes from 1–9 p.m. in Victoria Park. Food, arts, crafts and entertainment are planned, with headline acts including Jah Cutta and Amadou Kienou & Djeli Sira.
Craven Country Jamboree
Plenty of people are cravin’ the delights that await at the Craven Jamboree, I bet. Even if country ain’t your thang, there’s no shortage of other fun pastimes to keep you busy including yarn bombing, nude yoga, nature hikes, art history lectures and… relax, I’m kidding! Headline acts are Kacey Musgraves and Zac Brown Band (Friday), Chris Young and Alabama (Saturday) and Jerrod Niemann and Eric Church (Sunday).
The Trial of Louis Riel
July 14–16, July 21–23, July 28–30
Even today, Métis leader Louis Riel is a controversial figure. Some regard him as a traitor for the role he played in the Northwest Rebellion/Resistance in 1885. Many others see him as a champion of indigenous rights in the colonial era. This play, which is celebrating its 49th season in 2016, is performed at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, and is based on court transcripts from Riel’s treason trial.
Don’t have a ton of info on this event yet, other than that it will be in Wascana Centre (likely the lawn area northwest of the Legislature), and it will involve a ton of sweet food, music, dancing and general revelry.
Secret Gardens Tour
New Dance Horizons is partnering with Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) for this fundraiser, which features self-directed day and evening garden tours and dance performances on the theme Grasslands. There’s a special performance at NCC’s Fairy Hill 20 km north of town, which offers 665 hectares of native grasslands and woodlands along with unique (and endangered) species such as the loggerhead shrike, northern leopard frog, bigmouth buffalo fish and Sprague’s pipit.
Canadian National Square & Round Dance Festival
Aficionados of Triangle, Rectangle, Pentagon and other types of geometrically-inspired dancing are SOL, but fans of Square and Round dancing will be in for a treat as some of the top hoofers in Canada descend on Regina for this three-day festival at Delta Hotel.
July 29–Aug. 1
Besant Campground (West on #1 Hwy near Moose Jaw.)
If Connect was a person living in New York instead of an awesome electronic music-fest, it would finally be able to drink legally. That’s right, Connect turns 21 in 2016. Commuting is probably an option, but a lot of attendees prefer to camp out for the long weekend, which makes for a great festival vibe.
Queen City Ex
QCX opens with an evening parade Aug. 2 followed by fireworks at Wascana Centre. Because of Mosaic Stadium construction, grandstand shows are at Brandt Centre with headliners Coleman Hell (Aug. 3), Dallas Smith (Aug. 4), Loverboy and April Wine (Aug. 5), The Arkells (Aug. 6) and Rachel Platten (Aug. 7). In addition to the midway, attractions include West Coast Lumberjack Show, Craz-e Crew Stunt Team, Stars of the Peking Acrobats, Saskatchewan Express Minis & Expressions, Birds of Prey and Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo.
Regina Folk Festival
Takes place in cozy Victoria Park and adjacent City Square Plaza. In addition to the ticketed main stage shows at night, there are free daytime concerts and workshops on Saturday and Sunday and after parties on Friday and Saturday night. Feature acts include Sam Roberts Band, The Head and the Heart, Bettye LaVette, The Cat Empire, The Mavericks, Ricky Skaggs & the Kentucky Thunder, Frazey Ford and The Strumbellas. Look for our official program guide in the July 21 Prairie Dog.
Baseball Canada 21U Junior National Championship
Regina hosted this tournament in 2015, and the city is hosting it again in 2016. See some of the top young baseball talent in Canada with teams from seven provinces, including traditional powers Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, plus host teams from Saskatchewan and Regina.
Regina Horticultural Society Garden Festival
Annual showcase of produce and floral bouquets grown in Regina and surrounding area. Since the people behind this event know what they’re doing when it comes to gardening, the bounty should be plentiful.
Symphony Under The Sky
Like last year, the Regina Symphony Orchestra is holding its season kickoff at Motherwell Homestead which is an hour northeast of Regina near Abernethy. Starting at 10 a.m. there will be family activities at the historic farm site, with an opening set by Rosie & the Riveters at 2 p.m., followed by the symphony under new conductor Gordon Gerrard. Parks Canada admission applies, and the concert goes rain or shine.
Regina Dragon Boat Festival
A long-standing Labour Day tradition, this festival celebrates 25 years in 2016. Like other events of this nature, volunteers are vital. If you’d like to help out, you can find registration information on the website. Come race weekend, over 50 teams of rowers representing local businesses and organizations will compete for glory on mighty Wascana Lake. In addition to the races there’s live music, food and other cultural entertainment.
SIGA Dakota Dunes Open
This is one of 12 stops on the PGA Tour Canada schedule. During the four-day tournament golfers will compete for $150,000 in prize money. Partial proceeds from the tourney go to the Graham and Ruby DeLaet Foundation which supports children’s causes.
SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
June 24–July 3
This Bridge City festival celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016, and includes a mix of ticketed and free shows at various indoor and outdoor venues. Jazz is the primary musical genre celebrated, but rock, hip hop and blues are well represented. Feature performers include Lauryn Hill, Metric, City and Colour, The Downchild Blues Band, Big Boi, Jesse Cook and Royal Wood, along with numerous Saskatchewan acts in support roles.
Festival Fête Fransaskois
Circle H Ranch (SE of the city)
Most of the activities at this bilingual festival are outdoors, and include art workshops, kite flying, geocaching, a pancake breakfast, storytelling, along with daytime and evening concerts featuring Megan Kierstead, Kelly Bado, Rayannah, Alfa Rococo, Alexis Normand, Mélisande, Neev, Jocelyne Baribeau and Carmen Campagne.
Canadian National Arm Wrestling Championships
Biceps will bulge and faces grimace, I’ll wager, at this competition being hosted by the Saskatchewan Arm Wrestling Association at the Sheraton Cavalier in downtown Saskatoon.
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan
July 6–Aug. 21
The tragedy J. Caesar and comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream are being performed in 2016. Both productions offer a twist on the conventional Shakespeare version, with the former featuring an all-female cast while the latter has a circus theme. As in other years, the festival includes an Elizabethan Village and Sir Toby’s Tavern. There’s also an opportunity to book same-day excursions with Prairie Lily Riverboat Tours at $10 off.
When we were putting this feature together festival details had yet to be finalized. But there is a club event at the Cosmo Centre (614 11th St. E.) on Saturday evening that will feature food, dancing and live music from Jim Balfour & the Hygh Wave Jamaicans, the Oral Fuentes Reggae Band and more.
Hosted by the Western Development Museum, this annual celebration of Saskatchewan’s pioneer past includes family-friendly activities such as a vintage fashion show, ice cream making/butter churning, a calliope, costumed interpreters reenacting Boomtown, The Story of Threshing, A Parade of Power and more.
A Taste of Saskatchewan
For 20 years, Taste of Saskatchewan has been whetting peoples’ appetites for food and music at beautiful Kiwanis Memorial Park. Featured is gourmet food from over 30 Saskatoon restaurants and local food producers, along with music from dozens of Saskatchewan bands spanning the spectrum from country and pop to folk, rock and reggae. So there will be plenty to sink your teeth, and ears, into.
Brits By The Bess
Bentley, Jaguar, MG, Rolls-Royce, Mini and Land Rover are only some of the vehicle brands that will be represented at this annual showcase of British-made vehicles hosted by the Saskatchewan British Car Club. As Austin Powers would say, “Groovy, baby!”
Saskatoon Dragon Boat Festival
Over 1100 rowers take to the South Saskatchewan River in teams of 22 to raise funds for charity by paddling their posteriors off while the laziest/most-out-of-shape crew member beats out time on a drum. The event also includes a variety of cultural and social activities.
NASCAR Pinty’s Series Race
This event will feature some of the top drivers in Canada, along with local talent from the Saskatoon Stock Car Racing Association. Different classes of vehicles will race on the one-third mile paved oval track at Wyant Group Raceway, and there will be other entertainment.
PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival
July 28–Aug. 6
This isn’t the granddaddy of Canadian fringe festivals — that honour goes to Edmonton which started its fringe in 1982. But this is the Saskatoon Fringe’s 27th year, so it’s certainly a pillar of Canada’s fringe community. The festival is produced by 25th Street Theatre and features over 30 acts drawn from Saskatchewan, Canada and around the world, along with an assortment of buskers and arts and craft vendors on Broadway Ave.
July 29–Aug. 1
Anyone can marinate a hunk of meat, throw it on the grill, slather on some sauce, and serve up a semi-respectable meal. But with this festival you’ll have an opportunity to sample some truly delectable fare produced by BBQ masters. Throw in children’s activities such as a petting zoo and bouncy castle, along with some smokin’ live music, and it all adds up to a smokey-sweet time.
U18 Canadian Men’s Softball Championship
Sixteen teams from across Canada are expected to compete in this event being held at Bob Van Impe Stadium & Glen Reeve Fields. From Aug. 3 to 7, Saskatoon is also hosting the U14 Canadian Men’s Softball Championship at Gordie Howe Park & Glen Reeve Fields.
Midway? Check. Carney games? Yup. A whole pile of tasty, albeit nutritionally deficient, snacks? You bet! There’s a kick-off parade Aug. 9 at 10 a.m., and added attractions include the Saskatchewan Art Showcase, Rise to Fame Talent Search, Dinosaurs Past & Present, Birds of Prey, West Coast Lumberjack Show and nightly fireworks. Grandstand acts include X Ambassadors (Aug. 10), Simple Plan (Aug. 11), Brent Kissel (Aug. 12), Tom Cochrane (Aug. 13) and Crash & Bash Demo Derby (Aug. 14).
John Arcand Fiddle Fest
Located 10 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon at Windy Acres, this festival includes a mix of workshops, concerts, contests and Métis dance and craft activities along with children’s programming. There’s free unserviced camping on site, and both weekend and day passes are available with kids 12 and under admitted gratis.
With an influx of newcomers from all over the world in the last decade, Saskatoon’s multi-cultural reality isn’t just limited to weekend festivals — it’s on display year-round. Still, FolkFest offers Saskatonians a great opportunity pull a Jules Verne and make a quick trip around the world, sampling food, music, dance and bevies from different countries and cultures every step of the way.
Rock The River
Classic rock takes centre stage at this three-day festival which features Can-rock legends such as Loverboy, Lighthouse, Sass Jordan, Carol Pope (Rough Trade), Rik Emmett (Triumph), Nick Gilder & Sweeney Todd and hometown heroes The Northern Pikes.
Show & Shine Weekend
Billed as western Canada’s largest classic car show, this festival also includes performances by classic rock acts such as The Stampeders, Kenny Shields & Streetheart, Kick Axe, Saga, Trooper, Kim Mitchell and Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad).
YXE Beer Festival
I wouldn’t call it an explosion, but Saskatchewan’s craft beer industry is definitely a going (and growing) concern. Held in Rotary Park, this second-year festival offers local craft brewers a great opportunity to showcase their products. To help make sure the beer goes down smoothly, there’s food and live music too.
Ukrainian Day In The Park
Hosted by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, this popular outdoor festival is held in Victoria Park. It includes stage performances by Ukrainian cultural groups, children’s activities, a beer garden and (quelle surprise!) food.
Aug. 29–Sept. 4
Organized by restaurants in the Riversdale area, this second annual event gives people a chance to explore different dining options with prix fixe menus and daily specials. In Planet S’ May 26 Best of Food & Drink issue, The Odd Couple took home gold for Best Riversdale restaurant, with The Hollows nabbing silver, and Drift Sidewalk Cafe & Vista Lounge getting bronze. Park Café and The Grazing Goat were in the running too. So right there you’ve got a solid five-pack of restaurants to check out.
PotashCorp Fireworks Festival
“Creating magical moments” is the tagline for this festival which features two evenings of fireworks choreographed to music. The displays take place at the River Landing Amphitheatre and Rotary Park, and include live entertainment by groups representing different cultures along with other activities for children and adults.
Long Day’s Night Music Festival
This festival is held in conjunction with the Windscape Kite Festival (windscapekitefestival.ca) which goes June 25 to 27 and sees over 40 professional kite flyers from around the world test their mettle against each other and Saskatchewan’s notorious winds. Musical headliners include The Wet Secrets and We Were Lovers (June 23), Johnny McCuaig Band and DJ Baby Daddy (June 24), Hollerado and Little Junior (June 25) and The Matinee and Nick Faye & the Deputies (June 26).
Claybank Heritage Day
Built in 1914, the Claybank Brick Plant is a national historic site. When you visit, you’ll learn all about making bricks from clay. Hell, they might even give you a shovel and wheelbarrow and put you to work in the pit for a couple of hours digging clay — kidding! You will get a tour of the pit and factory though, plus an opportunity to bake bread in an outdoor brick oven.
Artists In Bloom
This one-day festival is at a heritage nursery in the Shellbrook area, and sees artists and crafters create installations that incorporate a variety of lily species. Then on July 17 there’s another floral festival called “Lilies In Bloom at Honeywood” which is also being held in the Parkside area.
June 29–July 2
Features an old tyme country fair, midway, professional rodeo and Canada Day parade on the theme “Brad Wall Is God!” — kidding again. The theme is actually “Rockin’ the Southwest”. Grandstand entertainment includes The Hunter Brothers and Link Union (June 29), Julian Austin and The Road Hammers (July 1), AiM For Theo and Finger Eleven (July 2).
100 Mile Mall
For Canada Day, the communities of Broadview, Grenfell, Sintaluta, Whitewood and Wolseley are joining forces to present an arts, craft and antique show and sale, along with a flea market.
Built in 1882, this homestead an hour northeast of Regina includes a stone house and classic red wood barn. Now a national historic site, the restored homestead offers visitors a chance to learn about farm life in pioneer times. To celebrate Canada Day, there’s an outdoor concert and beer garden. Then on Aug. 13 there’s a day devoted to binding and stooking as practiced in pioneer days.
Love Gospel Jamboree
The line-up for the 28th annual gospel music festival was still being nailed down as we went to press. But I’m sure it will be righteous. As always, there are food booths on site, and free unserviced camping.
There are ball games and fireworks on July 1, followed on July 2 by a parade, children’s carnival, bingo, more ball games, a ham supper (which is perhaps where the festival gets its name) and a dance. Then on July 3 there’s a polka mass and pancake breakfast.
Art Guild Show & Sale
Exhibition and sale of paintings by the South Shore Art Guild. The gallery space in the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre is open Thursdays to Sundays through July.
Fireside Chats, Stories & S’More
Grasslands National Park
July 1–Sept. 5
Friday evenings throughout the summer the Frenchman Valley and Rock Creek campgrounds will host family activities such as geo-caching, kayaking and black-footed ferret-spotting. July 22 to 24 there’s a Sleep Under the Stars Party Weekend with a concert by Aaron Lines and Navajo. As well, there’s Fossil Fever from Aug. 11–15 where you get to accompany paleontologists on a dig and attend the Rock Creek Hoedown on Aug. 13.
Grazing Goose Farm & Food Tours
July 1–Sept. 24
Learn more about organic agriculture and all the great flavours that Saskatchewan has to offer. Farms tours are held throughout the growing season on July 1, July 16, Aug. 6, Aug. 20, Sept. 10 and Sept. 24, and culminate with a feast featuring locally grown produce and meats.
Saskatoon berry Festival
With the early spring and warmish weather we’ve had so far this summer, the province’s berry crop should be decent. So if you agree with the sentiment of organizers of this day-long festival that “over 3000 people with purple teeth can’t be wrong”, you’ll want to attend and partake of all sorts of saskatoony goodness.
Doukhobor Dugout House
At this national historic site, costumed interpreters recount the settlement history of Russian Doukhobors in Saskatchewan and offer guided tours every Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. On July 2, there’s a special reenactment of an historic event that occurred on Oct. 29, 1924 that may have been an accident — or perhaps a murder.
Classic Movie Week
To celebrate the Mae Wilson Theatre’s 100th anniversary five classic movies will be screened: The Adventures of Robin Hood (July 5); Bringing Up Baby (July 6); All About Eve (July 7); Casablanca (July 8); and North by Northwest (July 9). Movies start at 7:30 p.m.
Summer Chautauqua Festival
Annual festival devoted to recreating the atmosphere of travelling shows from the 1920s that entertained isolated prairie communities with music, one-act plays, stories and lectures in the vaudeville tradition. You can even take a step back in time on the refreshment front with penny candy and sarsaparilla
Moosomin & District Rodeo
I suggested last year that if organizers wanted to distinguish themselves on Saskatchewan’s crowded rodeo calendar they should riff on their town name and sub in moose for all the livestock typically featured in rodeo events. Instead of calf-roping, for instance, there’d be moose-roping. And bull riding would become moose riding. Throw in a bunch of moose-themed souvenirs and watch the money roll in, I say. Unfortunately, it looks like organizers have opted to stick with the traditional rodeo format. Oh well, there’s always 2017.
One of a number of polka blowouts that are held throughout Saskatchewan in the summer. No word yet on which bands are playing this year, but I’m sure their accordion and clarinet playing will be up to snuff.
Motif Multicultural Festival
Similar to Mosaic in Regina and FolkFest in Saskatoon, this festival is dedicated to celebrating cultural diversity in the Band City. Motif is hosted by the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council, and is held in Happy Valley Park. Music, food, dance and drink are all on the travel itinerary for people who attend.
Station Arts Centre
July 8–Aug. 7
This summer’s production is the classical music-tinged comedy The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz! by Armand Wiebe. The play sees a farm wife, carpenter, musician and mid-wife struggle to find happiness on an isolated homestead. There are performances Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and matinees Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Pre-show lunch and dinner are available, but to arrange that you need to advance book at 306-232-5332.
Souris Valley Theatre
July 8–Aug. 14
Performances are in Frehlick Hall near Woodlawn Regional Park. Running from July 8 to 16 is the barnyard comedy Chickens. Written by Alberta playwright Lucia Frangione, it sees a struggling farm couple try to revitalize their business through exotic fowl. Then from July 25 to Aug. 6 it’s Billy Morton’s prohibition-era comedy Volstead Blues about rum-running in the Estevan area. And to top it all off, Saskatchewan Express will make its debut performance at the theatre on Aug. 10.
Wild West Family Fest
This family-friendly festival takes place at historic Fort Walsh in southwest Saskatchewan near Maple Creek. There’s archery, live music, water sports and a whole lot more.
The Spirit of Manitou Studio Trail
Artisans from Manitou Beach, Meachem, Watrous and the Viscount area open their studios to display handmade furniture, jewelry, ceramics, fabric art and more.
If you’re a die-hard curler who hasn’t made a clutch draw or raise takeout for three plus months now, you’re probably itching to hit the ice again. Well, here’s your chance. The Livelong bonspiel celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2016, and includes daily draws plus all sorts of social activities.
Old Home Week
Settlers of Ukrainian descent are being honoured at this year’s celebration. So in addition to regular events such as a show and sale by the Preeceville Art Group, a bread-baking demo at the Preeceville & District Heritage Museum, a ball tournament, and rodeo July 16 to 17, there’s also a perogie and sausage lunch on July 12.
Canora in Bloom
Get your blossom on and watch the pollinators in action at this annual celebration of floral beauty. Includes a street dance, movie nights, children’s carnival and evening garden tours.
Colonial Days Fair
Includes chuckwagon races, a demolition derby, livestock events, petting zoo, grandstand concerts and more. And while I don’t want to be too much of a Debbie Downer here, “colonial” is kind of a loaded word these days, so organizers might want to consider a name change.
Ness Creek Music Festival
Saskatchewan’s original eco-friendly festival offers a great chance to commune with nature in the boreal forest with thousands of music fans. It’s always a good time, and this year’s feature acts include Yukon Blonde, Les Hay Babies, The Sojourners, Good For Grapes, Kacy & Clayton, Shred Kelly, Jah Cutta, Jen Lane, Val Halla, Wolf Willow, Danny Michel and Ian Blurton’s latest project Public Animal. Both weekend and day passes are available.
Saskatchewan Festival of Words
This festival dedicated to the written and spoken word turns 20 in 2016. It includes a mix of poetry, fiction and non-fiction presenters, along with film screenings, musical performances and workshops geared to children and adults. Presenters include Robert Sawyer, Connie Gault, Nino Ricci, Sharon Butala, Ernie Louttit, Connie Kaldor, Zarqa Nawaz and Arthur Slade.
Another of the aforementioned polka blowouts. This one features an air-conditioned hall and floating hardwood floor, with music by Leon Ochs and Len Gadica. Aberdeen hosts a polkafest the next weekend (July 22 to 23) with music by Leon Ochs, Ralph Rhythm Kings and the Gold Tones. As well, on Aug. 13 St. Walburg has a polkafest, and Prince Albert has a three-day polkafest Aug. 19 to 21.
All Folk’d Up
Held in Kemoca Regional Park, this three-day family-friendly festival features Francophone and English acts. Performers this year include George Leach, Katie Miller, Glenn Sutter & the Rivertime Crew, Kara Golemba, Foxx Worthee, Scott Richmond and Digawolf.
Sandy Creek Gospel Jamboree
Get your gospel groove on at this jamboree at Besant Campground. Feature acts include The Banksons, Double Portion, Fraser Valley Quartet, Sweet (think bluegrass, not British glam-rock), Freedom Singers and Blue Collar Harmony Boys.
Saskatchewan Handcraft Festival
Organized by the Saskatchewan Craft Council, this juried market celebrates its 43rd anniversary in 2016. It features over 30 vendors selling pottery, hand-made jewellery, woodwork, visual art and more
Homesteader Hey Days
A dance, gymkhana, parade, pancake breakfast and fresh-baked bread from outdoor clay ovens are just some of the highlights. Remember, too, on Aug. 13 to 14 there’s the Thickwood Hills Studio Trail showcasing work by artisans in the Shell Lake area.
Organizers promise an action-packed day of child-friendly activities such as face-painting, balloon artists and crafts at Prince Albert National Park. So good luck to all the parents and caregivers who attend with their charges.
Fort Fest 16
Held at Fort Battleford National Historic Site, includes antique weapons demonstrations, a disc golf tournament and a bouncy castle. This is part of Canada Parks Day, which sees special events planned for many federal and provincial parks.
Vintage Power Machines Threshing Festival
This event includes threshing, log-sawing, blacksmith and farrier demonstrations, along with vintage tractor pulls and heavy horses. Don’t know what farrier demonstrations are? Okay, I had to Google it to be sure too, but it’s hoof-care for horses. So yeah, kind of like the equine equivalent of manis and pedis.
Great Saskatchewan Bacon Festival
The World Health Organization (WHO) dropped a bacon bomb in October re: supposed negative health effects of processed meats. But what does WHO know, right? Besides, this festival comes but once a year, so it’s not like you’re going to end up six feet under for one day of overindulgence. Instead, you’ll be able to sample such delicacies as bacon jam, bacon cheesecake, bacon soup and beef bacon.
Barbecue & Old Tyme Dance
This actually takes place a few kilometers out of town at the Sukanen Ship Museum named after settler Tom Sukanen (1878–1943). Sukanen spent years building a boat with the intention of one day returning to his home country of Finland. The site includes his ship, along with the Diefenbaker Homestead and a village with several restored pioneer buildings.
Located near the Big Muddy Badlands — which with all their gullies and ridges and outlaw lore, definitely live up to their name — Gateway marks its 12th anniversary in 2016. Line-up highlights include the Corb Lund Band, Sloan, Bry Webb, Limblifter, Rosie & the Riveters, Shotgun Jimmie, The Stampeders, The Odds, Fred Penner and Prairie Dog voters’ choice for Best New Regina Band in 2015: Surf Dads.
This annual celebration has a wild west theme. That’s okay, I guess, but what really sets it apart from similar festivals is that it offers a perfect chance to check out the T-Rex Discovery Centre. It’s home to Scotty the T. rex, which was recently designated as Saskatchewan’s official fossil. So yeah, she’s kind of a big deal.
12-40 & Beyond: An Adventure in Rural Life
Self-guided tour of the Blaine Lake, Marcelin, Leask and Hafford area. There are 12 venues on the tour including orchards, artist studios, antique museums, grain elevators and a blacksmith shop.
Annual festival celebrating the importance of the railway to Melville. The focus is the Railway Museum which boasts an old Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad station complete with antique locomotives, rail cars and cabooses. There’s also a street dance, fireworks, and a concert by the American roots rock band Train — okay, I’m kidding about that too. But how cool would that be?
Hosted by the Western Development Museum and SLUG (Saskatchewan LEGO Users Group), this fifth annual event showcases LEGO creations both large and small by hundreds of skilled adult builders.
Saskatchewan Summer Games
The official mascots for this quadrennial competition which features teams from nine districts are two white-tailed deer named Tansi and Ravi. Tansi is a traditional Cree greeting, while Ravi means “delighted” in French. In addition to competition in 13 different sports from archery and athletics to basketball and golf there are also cultural and heritage events.
July 27–Aug. 14
There are several versions of this fairy tale. The one RuBarb Productions is presenting at the Mae Wilson Theatre is known as the Enchanted Edition and is based on a TV production set to a score by Broadway legends Rogers & Hammerstein that Julie Andrews first starred in in 1957. Later productions starred Lesley Anne Warren (1965) and Brandy (1997).
Hilltop Sheepdog Trial
A must-attend event for anyone who’s a fan of the old Chuck Jones cartoons featuring Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog — although I don’t think wolves and sheepdogs are actually part of the competition. Instead, handlers mostly work with Border Collies which, as their name implies, are good at establishing boundaries to guide sheep through a course.
Frenchman River Gospel Jam
Offers a blend of gospel and country music, with ticketed evening shows and free daytime stages. Feature acts include The Hoppers, Brad Johner & the Johner Boys, The Ball Brothers, The Hunter Brothers and Catherine Lewans. Evening and weekend passes available.
World Bunnock Championship
As I’ve noted before, it’s one of the great mysteries of the universe why bunnock has never caught on as a major sport. It’s a German-Russian game played with horse ankle bones where teams take turns trying to knock down their opponent’s upright bones. So it’s got elements of curling, cricket, bowling, horseshoes and more. Yet all organizers could scrape together for prize money is $40,000. No wonder entries are capped at 384 teams.
Summer probably isn’t the only thing that will be slammed at this music festival and slo-pitch tournament. To begin with, there are all the extra base-hits and homers that are going to be “slammed” at the slo-pitch games. Then there’s all the booze that will be slammed by the players before, after and possibly even during the games. Headliners on the music side include Brad Johner & the Johner Boys (July 29), Gord Banford (July 30) and Nick Gilder & Sweeney Todd (July 31).
International Street Performer Festival
North Battleford’s sister city Battleford is hosting the 2016 Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies Aug. 22 to 24. Before that happens, North Battleford will host a bizarre conglomeration of clowns, acrobats, musicians, face painters, balloon sculptors and magicians who will entertain children and adults alike in the hope of earning both applause and a shower of toonies and loonies in the busker tradition.
Mid-Summer’s Art Festival
This outdoor festival is held annually at “the Fort” which, similar to Cathedral in Regina and Broadway in Saskatoon, has a bit of an arty rep. This festival includes visual and performing arts, along with children’s activities and buskers.
Threshermen’s Show & Seniors’ Festival
Hosted by the Western Development Museum and other partners, this festival includes threshing, stooking and sawmill demos, along with an antique car show and gas tractor competition.
Living Skies Come Alive
July 30–Aug. 1
Throughout the seasons, nature provides some pretty spectacular vistas in Saskatchewan tied to sunrises, sunsets and storms. With this annual Saskatchewan Day festival, which also includes children’s activities and other entertainment, organizers will try to give nature a run for its money.
The Drowsy Chaperone
Penned by Don McKellar, Bob Martin, Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, The Drowsy Chaperone started out as a Toronto fringe play. It parodies Jazz Age-era musicals, with an actual musical coming to life after a middle-aged fan of the genre starts to play a recording of his favourite (fictional) musical The Drowsy Chaperone from 1928. A fowl supper is offered on select nights. Presented by Prairie Skies Theatre.
Summer Star Party
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
Hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society (Regina and Saskatoon branches), this event offers a great opportunity to observe the night sky with zero light pollution and less atmospheric distortion than at lower elevations. Added bonus this year is a new moon on Aug. 2 so viewing of deep space objects should be especially stellar. Or maybe the party is always scheduled around a new moon — I don’t know. It DOES bounce around a bit. Not as much as Easter, mind you, but within a two week range from early to mid-August.
Hosted by the resort community of Cochin, which is nestled between Murray Lake and Jackfish Lake near the Battlefords, this festival includes slow-pitch, beach volleyball and horse shoe tournaments, along with a spaghetti-eating contest.
Saskatchewan Premier’s Walleye Cup
The Grey Cup of angling in Saskatchewan, this tournament sees roughly 160 teams compete for over $125,000 in cash and prizes. We’re not sure if the premier will be in attendance, but for the sake of the fisherfolk, hopefully the walleye will be biting. Oh yeah, and on Aug. 12 to 13 Nipawin hosts a ladies only fishing derby.
Heritage Village Days
Two-day event commemorating the history of Weyburn and area, this festival includes guided tours of a Heritage Village along with blacksmithing, ice cream/butter-making and sheep herding demonstrations. Running at the same time is the Weyburn Wheat Festival, so it promises to be quite a weekend in the Opportunity City.
Dog Patch Music Festival
Get your loon on at this art and music fest in a beautiful boreal forest. Musical guests include The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, The Dead South, The Steadies, Jen Lane, Colter Wall and Johnny McCuaig Band.
Bow Valley Jamboree
Held in the picturesque Souris River valley, this one-day event starts at noon and features some top-notch musical talent including Andino Suns, Alex Runions, Tyler Gilbert, Katie Miller and Jeffery Straker.
Cannington Manor Fair Day
Moose Mountain Provincial Park
Held at an historic homestead in southeast Saskatchewan where English aristocrats strove mightily (but failed miserably) to recreate old Blighty on the bald prairie with fox hunts, croquet, cricket and other Victorian-era pastimes. This event includes horse and buggy rides, skeet shooting, blacksmithing demonstrations and a picnic.
Historic Trades Day
Fort Walsh National Historic Site
In the immortal shtick of Maxwell Smart “Would you believe a day devoted to discussing memorable trades in professional sports history?” No? Okay, how about Victorian-era military drills by the RCMP, the NWMP Commemorative Association and Southern Alberta Horse Artillery, along with blacksmith, farrier, wheelwright and gunsmith demonstrations, and a Métis cabin and First Nations teepee.
Those Were The Days
Hosted by the Western Development Museum, this event celebrates pioneer life in the 1920s with vintage autos, light and heavy horse demonstrations, antique farm equipment and more. Offers a great opportunity to freak kids out about how tough life was in Saskatchewan waaay back when, but watch out they don’t start cracking wise about you being an antique yourself.
Northern Lights Bluegrass & Old Tyme Music Festival
Feature acts include The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, The Fitzgeralds, The Annie Lou Band, Notre Dame De Grass, All Day Breakfast Stringband and Rugged Little Thing. Once the festival is done, there’s a music camp with instruction in fiddle, banjo, upright bass and other instruments that runs Aug. 15 to 19.
Old Tyme Barn Dance
Features a dance at the historic Bell Barn, along with a cold buffet (and other refreshments) and a visit to the Bell Barn Interpretative Centre.
Includes arts and crafts, live music, buskers and random outbursts of frenetic arts activity on the beach.
From all reports, Bruno Mars stole the show at last February’s Superbowl halftime show. Now, it’s the town of Bruno’s turn to shine with its annual festival devoted to all things cherry. Hopefully growing conditions will cooperate, so if you attend you’ll be able to sample all sorts of cherry treats from sundaes and spreads to cherry-flavoured barbecue smokies. Yum!
North West Territorial Days
Hosted by the Battlefords Agricultural Society, this fair has been held since 1887. It features plenty of non-agricultural activities too, including a parade, midway, grandstand entertainment, a petting zoo and demolition derby.
Held at Woodlawn Provincial Park, this event includes all sorts of beach activities and water sports, along with live bands and a sand castle competition.
Danceland Presents The Emeralds
If you’re familiar with the work of Saskatchewan painter David Thauberger you’ve doubtlessly seen his iconic representation of Danceland. So why not visit in person, and polka your privates off at this annual dance party.
Waskesiu Lakeside Festival
This three-day festival is held in Prince Albert National Park and offers a mix of music, family programming, aquatic activities and buskers. Mainstage acts include Sarah Beth Keeley, Kelsey Fitch, The Grain Report, Waking up the Neighbors and The Steadies. And Sept. 9 to 11, Wakesiu hosts the 13th annual Reel Rave Film Festival with screenings of six films.
Living Sky Music & Food Festival
Held at the Agri-Park, this festival combines art, culture, food and electronic dance music with buskers and street musicians. It’s an all-ages event with weekend camping available — although the music runs late into the night, so sleeping better not be a priority if you’re planning to attend.
Wild Blueberry Festival
Tame blueberries are boring, right? For the true berry experience you need to get your Lou Reed on and take a walk on the wild side. And that’s what this festival offers, with a chance to savour all sorts of blueberry treats along with fun activities such as a street fair and a car and bike show.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend
Groove to rock ’n’ roll from the 1950s on the famed horse hair-supported floor at Danceland. On Friday, Harry Startup headlines, and on Saturday it’s England.
The family-friendly celebration includes a parade, arts and craft sale and 20,000 rubber ducks being dropped into the Qu’Appelle River, where the current carries them downstream in a one kilometre race with prizes awarded to the top finishers. Riffing on the idea of the Kentucky Derby being the most exciting two minutes in sports, pundits have called the Lumsden Duck Derby the most exciting one-kilometre in sports. So check it out if you get a chance.
POW WOW & RELATED EVENTS
Sturgeon Lake Competition Powwow
Sturgeon Lake (North of Prince Albert)
Canadian Pro Chuckwagon Races
Onion Lake First Nation
June 29–July 3
Races are held on a five-eighth mile track with a covered grandstand. At stake is over $150,000 in prize money.
Canada Day Celebration
Batoche National Historic Site
Selected by Louis Riel as the site of a provisional government in the 1885 Northwest Rebellion/Resistance, Batoche was also where the last battle occurred. Visitors can learn more about that troubled time in our history through costumed guides, tours and special exhibits. As well, on July 9 there’s a special day of programming called Kidfest for the younger crowd. Find out more at 306-423-6227.
Muskeg Lake Veteran’s Memorial Powwow
James Smith Cree Nation Powwow
Near Prince Albert
Kahkewistahaw First Nation Powwow
Over 500 dancers from across North America compete for $60,000 in prize money.
Back to Batoche Days
This annual celebration of Métis culture will have extra meaning this year thanks to the Supreme Court’s April ruling in Daniels v. Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development) that held that Métis and non-status Indians enjoy a special relationship with the Crown. Years of negotiations lay ahead to determine what that means exactly, but it’s a starting point. As for this event, it includes all sorts of traditional games and entertainment from fiddling and jigging to square-dancing and old time dancing.
One Arrow First Nation Powwow
Onion Lake Cree Nation Powwow
Touchwood Agency Tribal Council Powwow
Kawacatoose First Nation
Witchekan Lake Competition Powwow
Witchekan First Nation (Near Spiritwood)
Ochapowace Cree Nation Powwow
Thunderchild Competition Powwow
Thunderchild First Nation (Near Turtleford)
Peepeekisis Cree Nation Powwow
Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation Powwow
Thundering Hills Powwow
Nekaneet First Nation (Near Maple Creek)
Standing Buffalo Powwow
This is one of the oldest and best attended powwows in North America. In addition to the dance competition, there’s food, craft displays and a yummy “buffalo feed” on Sunday.
Piapot First Nation Traditional Powwow
Cowessess Traditional Powwow
Cowessess First Nation (Near Broadview)
Louis Riel Relay Days
Batoche Historical Site
Family-friendly celebration of Métis culture with a relay race, archery lessons, live music, storytellers, beading workshops and nature walks. Donny Parenteau, Julian Austin and Aaron Pritchett are the headliners.
Potash Corp Wanuskewin Days Cultural Celebrations & Powwow
Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Family-friendly celebration of Plains First Nation culture and history held at the indigenous National Historic Site north of Saskatoon.
Mistawasis First Nation Traditional Powwow
Flying Dust First Nation Powwow
Near Meadow Lake